SOCHI, Russia: Chinese bid chiefs insisted yesterday they would present a compelling case to host the country’s first ever Winter Games in 2022 even though it would be the third consecutive Olympics in east Asia.
Five cities are in the running to host the event in eight years’ time -- Almaty in Kazakhstan, Beijing, Poland’s Krakow, Lviv in Ukraine and Oslo.
But China faces an uphill task as the next Winter Games take place in South Korean’s Pyeongchang and the 2020 summer games will be held in Japanese capital Tokyo.
Under the joint Beijing-Zhangjiakou bid, ice sports would be held in the Chinese capital while snow events would take place in the city of Zhangjiakou in the neighbouring province of Hebei, around 200km (125m) away.
China has never hosted a Winter Games but the 2008 Summer Olympics marked a key milestone in the country’s emergence onto the world stage.
“The Winter Olympics have not yet been staged in China, the most populous country in the world,” Beijing vice mayor Yang Xiaochao told a press conference in Sochi.
“We hope to fulfil the dream of hosting both the Summer and Winter Olympics in the same city,” he added.
The Chinese delegation said facilities built for the 2008 Olympics would be re-used, including the “Bird’s Nest” stadium in Beijing, refusing to be drawn on a potential overall budget.
The officials said a winning bid would boost infrastructure and facilities and have environmental benefits as well as promoting winter sports in China and Asia.
A high-speed railway linking Beijing with Zhangjiakou will be built regardless of whether the bid is successful, with a planned completion date of 2017.
“I belive that bidding itself is beneficial and participation is rewarding. Regardless of the result we will continue to implement related plans,” said Yang, who added that there was a high level of support for the Games within China.
When asked whether he was concerned that the 2022 Games came hard on the heels of Olympics in South Korea and Japan, Chinese Olympic Committee vice president Yang Shuan said all the team could do was to do their job.
“What we are doing now is to make sure we are fully prepared ourselves and we hope that the International Olympic Committee will be able to choose the most suitable city and we’re trying to make every effort to become the most suitable city.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping was one of dozens of heads of state at the opening ceremony in Sochi on Friday. AFP